Is the hybrid work model really the best of both worlds?
The Covid-19 pandemic forced offices across the world to shift to the work-from-home (WFH) setup. After a year into the pandemic, life has finally begun to gain a semblance of normalcy. With this, office-goers have started returning to their traditional work settings.
As of 2020, 30% of employees globally work in fully remote companies. According to research by Statista, 80% would recommend working remotely to their friends. The research shows that the attitudes towards remote work have been largely positive, as long as the employees had access to the appropriate technological hardware to work remotely.
With these positive findings in mind, let us look at what a hybrid work model entails.
What is the hybrid model?
A hybrid model refers to a workplace structure where part of the staff works remotely, while the rest work in-office. So, for instance, while the writing team of a media organization might work remotely, their marketing team might be on-site.
The hybrid model can be further subdivided into two parts, remote-first and occasional office.
The remote-first hybrid model consists of organizations that have taken the leap towards full-time remote work for some of their employees. These employees are only required at the office for occasional meetings, with most of their day-to-day communication taking place in real-time over the internet.
An example of the remote-first hybrid model is the social question-and-answer website Quora. The company’s remote-first model permits employees to relocate to wherever they wish, as long as they can be legally employed from there. Quora will continue to keep their office space, allowing employees who want to work from the office to continue to do so.
In opposition to the remote-first hybrid, the occasional office model requires employees to come into the office a few times a week. The idea behind this model is to use the office space to facilitate a blend of in-person collaboration and solo work.
How rigid the guidelines are when the employees work from home and when they must come to the office depends on the company. Some might have fixed in-office days, while others may have a shift system where team A and team C come to the office on Mondays and Tuesdays while team B and team D come in on Wednesdays and Thursdays.
Positives of the hybrid model
The main advantage of the hybrid model is the flexibility it provides the employees. It saves them the time and money that they would otherwise have to spend on their daily commute to work. It also decreases the employees’ exposure to health risks, like Covid-19, by preventing large gatherings at the workplace.
From an employer’s perspective, the hybrid model reduces absenteeism by allowing the employees to spend more time with their families daily. The hybrid model has also led to an increase in an individual’s productivity by 58%. Workers who feel more comfortable by themselves can now work from home, while those who thrive in community settings can come to the office.
Another key advantage of this model is access to a global workforce. Organizations no longer need to limit themselves to hiring locally or paying for expensive relocations. Employees in different time zones can provide the organization with round-the-clock coverage.
Negatives of the hybrid model
The hybrid work model is not all sunshine and daisies. There are negative impacts as well. One of the most noticeable negative impacts is isolation. Due to the differing time zones, employees might have to wait an entire day to receive feedback on their work.
Overall communication requires additional effort. When communicating over text and email, gauging the other person’s tone can become a challenge. Besides this, employees might experience no sense of work-life balance with the workday extending way past their actual working hours.
If the company’s leadership works from the office, it might result in an unequal distribution of benefits and recognition. A survey conducted by researchers at Gartner found that 64% of managers are more inclined to give a raise to in-office employees.
Tailoring the hybrid model to your needs
The hybrid work model can be redesigned to fit the needs of most workplaces. To make the model work, you must ensure that workers are treated equally irrespective of whether they work from home or in-office.
As a leader, you must get your remote workers to interact with one another and the in-office staff. A great way of achieving this is to host virtual happy hours to make them feel like a part of a connected community.
Besides activities meant for strengthening team building, as a leader, you must also focus on recognizing the efforts of each of your team members. A weekly meeting where tasks assigned in the previous week are discussed freely is an excellent way of doing so.
It is essential to not be easily discouraged by minor setbacks. The hybrid work model is still a relatively new concept that leaders can experiment with to achieve their desired results.
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